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Teen Blog

Reading, Wellington, and whatever else – teenblog@wcl.govt.nz

Author: Alayne

Extremely Cool Christmas Advent Calendar

It’s December, which means that the holiday season is upon us! To celebrate, here is a (slightly late) Christmas Advent Calendar! Explore our list of challenges using the interactive slide below, or check out the challenge list below!


Calendar graphics from Unsplash.


Christmas Advent Calendar Challenge List:

  1. Watch the classic film A Muppet Christmas Carol.
  2. Try baking an aesthetic festive treat, maybe from the Vegan Christmas Cookbook!
  3. Do a silly festive photoshoot with your friends/family. Extra points if you can find some classic ugly Xmas jumpers.
  4. Write a Christmas Story of your own! If you have younger siblings, make a picture book for them and have them do some truly wild little kid illustrations for it.  Alternative idea: Write a holiday fanfiction for your favourite book series.
  5. Watch the classic film The Grinch.
  6. Try baking some cookies for your friends and family, check out Christmas with Kim-Joy : a festive collection of edible cuteness for inspiration!
  7. Try making some tree ornaments! You can make these with whatever materials you like! Try salt dough ornaments, polymer clay or even just paper! Here’s a book if you would like some ideas.
  8. Check out a twist on an old Christmas classic with Scrooge #worstgiftever.
  9. Try making a snow globe out of a mason jar!
  10. Your film watching experience, should you choose to accept it, is the classic festive film Home Alone!
  11. Make some handmade Christmas cards for all your friends and family!
  12. Organise a Secret Santa with your friends. Extra points if you make each other handmade presents!
  13. Your festive book suggestion for today is Dash & Lily’s book of dares.
  14. Today’s challenge is for our musicians out there. Learn to play/sing a Christmas song, or write your own!
  15. Today’s movie suggestion is The Nightmare Before Christmas!
  16. Discover a magical Christmas wonderland, right here in Wellington! Windows filled with Christmas cheer, art installations and even an enchanting Lego display! More info at Wellington City Council’s Website.
  17. Your holiday reading suggestion for today is Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless!
  18. Have you wrapped your presents yet? Try designing your very own wrapping paper! For example, go find some plain paper and draw your own designs on them.
  19. Today’s reading suggestion is Reindeer boy!
  20. Most likely, your favourite musician has recorded at least one Christmas song. So, go find some festive tunes and make the perfect holiday playlist!
  21. You movie suggestion for today is It’s A Wonderful Life.
  22. Today’s challenge is to learn a bit more about learn more about the history behind Christmas traditions. As usual, we have plenty of books you could check out…
  23. Your reading suggestion today is The Afterlife of Holly Chase.
  24. Make something yum for Christmas tomorrow! Maybe some mince pies? Or trifle? As always, feel free to look through our collection for ideas…
  25. Your challenge today is to make a cute festive video with your friends/whānau!
  26. MERRY CHRISTMAS and SEE YOU IN THE NEW YEAR!

 

Summer Reads + Things To Do With Your Friend/Crush

It’s Summer! School’s out and the world is your proverbial oyster. But maybe you’re not sure what to read over the break? Perhaps you’re feeling bored and have forgotten what to do with that mythical concept called free time? Look no further, we’ve got you covered! I’ve put together a list of some excellent books, and not only that, each book has an accompanying activity to invite your friend/crush to! Now go get some books, and have an excellent Summer break.

The way you make me feel / Goo, Maurene
“Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn’t so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #1 : Take a Sunday walk down the waterfront to the Habourside Market for some food truck and dog-spotting galore!

Love & gelato / Welch, Jenna Evans
“Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, and she’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years?” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #2 : Go get some refreshing gelato/ice-cream.

Happily ever afters / Bryant, Elise
“Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Tessa needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #3 : Go for a wander around Te Whanganui-a-Tara’s many second-hand bookstores and try to find the perfect/weirdest book. 

Leah on the offbeat / Albertalli, Becky
“Leah Burke is an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom; her life is decidedly less privileged. Even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends– not even her openly gay BFF, Simon. When her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways, it’s hard for Leah to strike the right note.  If only real life was as rhythmic as her drumming…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #4 : Take inspo from our music loving protagonist Leah and go see a band at Gardens Magic. Make sure to get there early to secure a good picnic spot, and don’t miss the light installations around the gardens.

Summer of salt / Leno, Katrina
“No one on the island of By-the-Sea would call the Fernweh women what they are, but if you need the odd bit of help, such as a sleeping aid concocted by moonlight, they are the ones to ask. Georgina Fernweh waits for the tingle of magic in her fingers– magic that has already touched her twin sister, Mary. But with her eighteenth birthday looming at the end of her last summer on the island, Georgina fears her gift will never come.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #5 :  Go to the beach! The beach is great! Just remember to be safe; use plenty of sunblock and NEVER LOOK A SEAGULL DIRECTLY IN THE EYES.

Keep my heart in San Francisco / Coombs, Amelia Diane
“Caroline “Chuck” Wilson has big plans for spring break—but her dad wrecks those plans when he asks her to spend vacation working the counter at Bigmouth’s Bowl, her family’s failing bowling alley. Making things astronomically worse, Chuck finds out her dad is way behind on back rent—meaning they might be losing Bigmouth’s, the only thing keeping Chuck’s family in San Francisco.things” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #6 : Go bowling! It’s a fun activity to do in your spare time. It might seem uncool, but personally that’s just how I roll. I wonder how many of these puns I can sneak into this blog post before Stephen asks me to spare you all from my jokes. I might be told to put a pin in it, but I will keep making puns forever until I am banned and if that happens…I will go on strike. Anyways, go bowling.

Editor’s note: Your pun quota is getting awfully close to being full, Alayne. I’m watching you. — SC

I think I love you / Desombre, Auriane
“A YA contemporary rom com about two girls who start as rivals but after a twist of events, end up falling for one another—at least they think so. A pitch perfect queer romance. Arch-nemeses Emma, a die-hard romantic, and more-practical minded Sophia find themselves competing against one another for a coveted first-prize trip to a film festival in Los Angeles . . . what happens if their rivalry turns into a romance?” ( Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #7 : The easy offer here is that you simply go to a movie, but everyone goes to the movies. Why not have a go at making a movie? Lots of films are shot on phones these days and you can even checkout the filmmaking courses on LinkedIn Learning, free with your library card.

This time will be different / Sugiura, Misa
“Katsuyamas never quit — but seventeen-year-old CJ doesn’t even know where to start. She’s never lived up to her mom’s type A ambition, and she’s perfectly happy just helping her aunt, Hannah, at their family’s flower shop. She doesn’t buy into Hannah’s romantic ideas about flowers and their hidden meanings, but when it comes to arranging the perfect bouquet, CJ discovers a knack she never knew she had. A skill she might even be proud of. Then her mom decides to sell the shop — to the family who swindled CJ’s grandparents when thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps during WWII. Soon a rift threatens to splinter CJ’s family, friends, and their entire Northern California community; and for the first time, CJ has found something she wants to fight for.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

IDEA #8 : Do you know about Wellington’s Hidden Gardens? Until December 15th, you can discover seven hidden gardens across Pōneke. There will be secret events happening at every garden, and each is designed to a specific theme. For more information, check out the Wellington City Council website here.

Study Hacks to Avoid NCEA Panic Attacks

It’s almost time for summer holidays, but first the dreaded NCEA season is approaching. Have you barricaded yourself in your room with an ungodly amount of snacks yet? Have you spent the required 2.5 hours debating aesthetic highlighter choices for your study notes? Do you know when your exams are? These, and the list below, are all equally important things to consider when preparing for your exams.

Image of a collection of NCEA study books at He Matapihi Library

Controversial librarian take: I wish we could shelve these study guides by colour instead of by call number. [Editor’s note: HOW VERY DARE YOU! (also, yes). -SC]


1: Use the official study guides.

No shade to the NCEA system, but when I was a teen you would literally see questions in the study books that would then turn up, ALMOST VERBATIM, in the exam. This is because, though it can be hard to believe, the people that write your tests want you to succeed.  Making your way through these guides is therefore something you do not want to miss out on. If you don’t have a copy of the study guides, no worries, we have copies at most of our libraries. Click here to find ’em all.


2: Practice with past exams.

Following the previous tip, you can go to the official NCEA website and take past exams. You can them come print them off at the library if you like!

Extra for experts: Practice completing your exams within the time limit that you will have on the day, with no looking things up! The closer you can get to practicing in actual test conditions, the less stressed you’ll hopefully get on the day.


3: Don’t leave it to the last minute.

Trying to revise a whole year of work in a day is impossible. Saying “today I will study for 4 hours” is vague. Try setting specific and manageable goals. Make a plan that breaks down exactly what you intend to revise, and what day you will do it on. This means that, when you sit down to study, you won’t have to waste brain energy figuring out where you should start. You could pair this with a cute to-do list or calendar to track your progress. You could even incorporate cute stamps or stickers. You are never too old or cool for stickers. I guess what I am trying to say is that if you can find an excuse to go get some cute stationery, you should do it. I am not sponsored by Big Stationery, but gosh I wish I was. Anyway, back to studying, this leads me to my next tip…


4: Take breaks!

The fact is that, although it sounds very impressive to say “I’m going to study for 5 hours today”, most people need to take breaks. Exactly how long/how many will depend on your brain! I have looked briefly around at various resources and a common suggestion is 45 mins of work, then 15 mins of downtime to recharge, so maybe try that and then change it up to find what works best for you.

On this note, although it may be tempting to use that break time to zone out with your phone, I challenge you to give yourself a proper rest from your screen. Try going for a walk outside, making yourself a hot drink, eating a snack or lying in the sun listening to music. Find an activity that you enjoy that lets your mind wander, but that isn’t a procrastination trap.


5: Have a study group/buddy.

This could take many different forms! Are you more likely to study if you sit with a group of friends who are hard at work? Do you prefer learning facts if there’s a chance to get competitive about it? Do you find it easier to understand concepts if you talk them out with someone? There’s heaps of reasons to add a social aspect to your studying! Sidenote: you could also incorporate some mild hijinks into your study day. For example, me and my friends once all met for a library study session in Where’s Wally outfits. We then took breaks to play real life Where’s Wally in the library. Yes, we were studying for a theatre class. Yes, we were fully grown adults at university. Yes, I am still extremely cool.


6: Make it a e s t h e t i c .

Here’s where you get to use those fancy new highlighters. After revising a concept, condense what you have learned into a mind map/flow chart/summary page. This will then be a helpful tool for when you want to briefly look over a topic. It’s also a nice safety blanket for exam day.


7: GET RID OF DISTRACTIONS.

Put your phone on silent, in a shoe box, and throw it into the ocean. Maybe not in the ocean, but keep that thing as far out of your study zone as possible.

Headphones can be really helpful if your study space isn’t very peaceful, os if you have annoying siblings you need help ignoring. I suggest playing ambient music or lo-fi hiphop beats, whatever helps you separate yourself from any distracting sounds. Related to this, the teen blog team here at WCL might be cooking up something very interesting for you. 

Extra for expert: Turn your Wi-Fi off. Don’t be online at all until you are finished studying. As an ancient person who sat my NCEA exams before it was common to have wi-fi at home, I can assure you it’s possible to study without constantly being online.


8: …it’s like a reward.

End your study session with a treat. Have some Tiktok or video game time to reward yourself for a hard day of studying. You could also plan a fun hang-out with your friends later in the day, that way you have a set time where you have to be done studying by. Deadlines can be very helpful!

~Extra hard mode~: You can only text your crush back once you finish studying. Honestly, I would not be surprised if this helps a person learn a concept faster.


Helpful books!

Learning how to learn : how to succeed in school without spending all your time studying / Oakley, Barbara A.
“A surprisingly simple way for students to master any subject… “Learning How to Learn” have empowered more than two million learners of all ages from around the world to master subjects that they once struggled with. Now in this new book for kids and teens, the authors reveal how to make the most of time spent studying. — Provided by publisher.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

How to be a knowledge ninja : study smarter, focus better, achieve more / Allcott, Graham
“Paralysed by procrastination? Harness some Ninja Focus to get things started. Overwhelmed by exam nerves? You need some Zen-like Calm to turn those butterflies into steely focus. Surrounded by too many scrappy notes and unfinished to-do lists? Get Weapon-savvy with the latest organizational technology.” (Catalogue)

The study skills handbook / Cottrell, Stella
“Your essential companion for succeeding with your studies. Bestselling author Stella Cottrell equips you with the skills you need to improve your grades, build your confidence and plan for the future you want. Recognising that we each have a unique formula for success, her tried and trusted approach helps you find the key to unlock your potential.” (Catalogue)

How to study / Fry, Ronald W
“Best-selling HOW TO STUDY, SEVENTH EDITION reveals the study skills that all students need to know in order to be successful, whether the goal is landing a top scholarship or excelling in school. This edition includes information on how to create an effective work environment, stand out in class, use the library, conduct research online, and much more. Plus, author Ron Fry covers all the traditional elements of a winning study strategy, such as reading, writing, time-management, memory, and test-taking skills. HOW TO STUDY, SEVENTH EDITION introduces a revolutionary study system, along with examples, that gives students the edge in any learning environment.” (Catalogue)

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival is running from the 4th–21st of November, so now is the perfect time to explore the world of cinema!

Your library membership gives you access to our DVD collection (rental fees apply). Here are some past NZIFF gems that we have on offer:

The Red Turtle / Dudok de Wit (Netherlands/Japan)

A poignant, wordless fable of luminous imagery and swirling animation. In a majestic world of intricate hand-drawn textures, a shipwrecked man is found marooned on a desert island. With his attempted escapes thwarted by the strange and larger-than-life red turtle, the man’s existence is forever altered when something extraordinary occurs. (Catalogue)

The Farewell / Lulu Wang (USA, Chinese-American)

Chinese-born, U.S.-raised Billi reluctantly returns to Changchun to find that, although the whole family knows their beloved matriarch, Nai-Nai, has been given mere weeks to live, everyone has decided not to tell Nai Nai herself. To assure her happiness, they gather under the joyful guise of an expedited wedding, uniting family members scattered among new homes abroad. As Billi navigates a minefield of family expectations and proprieties, she finds there’s a lot to celebrate. (Catalogue)

A Date for Mad Mary / Darren Thornton (Ireland)

Mad Mary McArdle has returned home after a short spell in prison – for something she’d rather forget. Her best friend, Charlene (Charleigh Bailey), is about to get married and Mary is the maid of honour. When Charlene refuses Mary a ‘plus one’ on the grounds that she probably couldn’t find a date, Mary becomes determined to prove her wrong. Her attempts at dating are a disaster and she winds up feeling more alone…until she meets Jess (Tara Lee) and everything changes. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Kedi / Ceyda Torun (Turkey)

Hundreds of thousands of cats roam the metropolis of Istanbul freely. For thousands of years they’ve wandered in and out of people’s lives, becoming an essential part of the communities that make the city so rich. Claiming no owners, these animals live between two worlds, neither wild nor tame, and they bring joy and purpose to those people they choose to adopt. In Istanbul, cats are the mirrors to the people, allowing them to reflect on their lives in ways nothing else could. (CATalogue)

I Used to Be Normal : A Boyband Fangirl Story / Jessica Leski (Australia)

Filmed over four years, and spanning three generations, this intimate coming of age story follows a diverse group of women who have had their lives dramatically changed by their boyband obsessions. These four women must navigate the challenges of relationships, family, sexuality, and faith, while constantly grappling with all the problems and contradictions that are part of being in love with a boyband. (Adapted from Catalogue)

The Miseducation of Cameron Post / Desiree Akhavan (USA)

Cameron is sent to a gay conversion therapy center after getting caught with another girl in the back seat of a car. Run by the strict and severe Dr. Lydia Marsh and her brother, Reverend Rick, the center is built upon repenting for same sex attraction. In the face of intolerance and denial, Cameron meets a group of fellow sinners, including the amputee stoner Jane and her friend, the Lakota Two-Spirit Adam. Together, this group of teenagers forms an unlikely family as they fight to survive. (Catalogue)

Adult cards also have access to online streaming services to Kanopy and Beamafilm, so perhaps you could utilise a guardian’s library card for a family movie night!

After that, why not head over to LinkedIn Learning (free with your library card) and take one of their online filmmaking courses? Topics include making a short film from start to finish, cinematography, screenwriting, video editing and more!

Te Taiao Needs Our Help: Recycling Week 2021


Did you know that Aotearoa has a week dedicated to recycling? Of course we should be recycling all the time, but it’s good to have a reminder about what we can do to care for the taiao. Recycling Week runs from the 18th-24th of October, with each day being dedicated to challenges to encourage us to re-think our waste minimization and recycling behaviours. To get us inspired, here are some awesome recycling initiatives from around the world!

There are machines in Colombia where you can recycle your tin, glass and plastic bottles in exchange for public transit credits. Imagine paying for the bus with bottles! You could literally collect other people’s littering and profit from it. Then you’d be both a tidy kiwi, and a kiwi with a topped up Snapper card, Incredible!

Barcelona had a issues with cooking oil being poured down the drain and clogging the pipes (sound familiar?). City officials tackled this problem by giving away free “Olipots” for people to collect their used oil in, while also setting up collection spots for people to dispose of their oil around the city. The collected oils are then recycled into a biodiesel.

ReTuna Återbruksgalleria, in Sweden, is the world’s first recycling mall! Here, old items are given new life through repair and upcycling. Everything sold is recycled, reused or has been organically or sustainably produced. Visitors to the mall can also easily drop off donations, which are then sorted into what can be repaired and resold or donated to somewhere the item will be useful.

Scientists in South Korea have invented a t-shirt that could be used to charge your phone! Specifically, the fabric of the t-shirt generates electricity as it bends and flexes and “a person wearing a shirt tailored from the material only has to move around to power a small screen or other electronic devices” .  This process is possible through the utilising of Triboelectricity, electricity generated by friction. If you want to know more, click through to the article because this goes over my head very quickly. It has been a minute/decade since I did NCEA Physics. Most importantly, this invention would be very handy for long Pokémon GO missions (is Pokémon GO still relevant and cool? Please let it still be relevant and cool. I need this). 


Keen to take the next step in your recycling? Here’s a little book list to send you on your way. 🙂


My zero-waste kitchen : easy ways to eat waste free / O’Rourke-Jones, Ruth
“Looking to live sustainably without overhauling your life? My Zero-Waste Kitchen shows you how to put the three R’s – reduce, reuse, recycle – into practice in the kitchen.  (Adapted from Catalogue)


Make & mend : a guide to recycling clothes and fabrics / Peacock, Rebecca
“Welcome to Make & Mend! This book shows how, with a little knowledge and a little creativity, you can make a wide range of fantastic items from those old clothes and fabrics you can’t bear to throw away. Full of projects, from aprons to curtains, bags to jewellery, we show you how to turn a bag of scraps into wearable, beautiful and personalised items.” (Adapted from Catalogue)


Remade vintage jewelry : 35 step-by-step projects inspired by lost, found, and recycled treasures / Bush, *Co-Co Nichole
“Transform vintage finds and broken objects into pieces to treasure with Remade Vintage Jewelry.” (Catalogue)


A little bit crafty
“A little bit crafty is a nifty collection of 39 DIY ideas from creative types across Australia and New Zealand. With an emphasis on recycling, cheap and easy materials, and projects that can be done in an afternoon, it’s chock full of sweet, clever and slightly oddball crafts that’ll make you smile and keep your hands happy, too.” (Catalogue)


ReadyMade : how to make (almost) everything : a do-it-yourself primer / Berger, Shoshana
“For people who like to make stuff, who see the flicker of invention in everyday objects, this quirky ‘how-to’ volume contains design projects ranging from water-bottle lounge chairs and ladder shelving to shopping bag rugs and denim dog beds.” (Catalogue)


The upcycled T-shirt : 28 easy-to-make projects that save the planet – clothing, accessories, home decor & gifts / Montilone, Jenelle
“Did you know the average American throws away more than 68 pounds of clothing each year? Join the revolution to reduce your carbon footprint—one T-shirt at a time! Widely known for her recycling efforts, environmental crafter Jenelle Montilone will show you how to upcycle tees into fun and fanciful quilts, accessories, toys, and gifts for the whole family. (Adapted from Catalogue)


50 fantastic ideas for sustainability / O’Sullivan, June
“Teach children to reduce, reuse, recycle, repair and be respectful with 50 fun activities for encouraging environmental sustainability. From creating butterfly feeders with food scraps, to turning old kitchen equipment into beautiful planters or bringing broken crayons back to life, these original ideas encourage practitioners to see the potential for creativity and fun using and reusing everyday, easy-to-source items, some of which might have otherwise gone to waste. Enhance children’s creativity, cognitive development and motor skills through indoor and outdoor activities that are enjoyable, educational and environmentally friendly. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Poetry is extremely cool, OK?

If you’ve visited our blog recently, you’ll know that we are now accepting submissions for Tūhono, Wellington City Libraries’ poetry journal for kids and teens. You have until the 14th of November to submit, and more info about that can be found here.

Note: Submissions for Tūhono 2021 are now closed. Thank you to everyone who submitted.

Perhaps you would like to start writing/reading poetry, but you’re not sure where to start? Maybe you’ve never been introduced to poetry that was written after, I don’t know, Netflix stopped sending PHYSICAL DVDS IN THE ACTUAL MAIL. The sad truth is that the poetry taught in schools is old, dusty and almost always about landscapes for some reason. Don’t get me wrong, I love a poem about the hills being cool, but sometimes it’s easier to jump into poetry that speaks more about the here and now.

With that in mind, to inspire any future poets out there, here’s a selection of poems to enjoy! 

All my plants are dead and I’m pretty sure it’s your fault – Dani Yourukova

Can I Still Come Crash at Yours? – Tayi Tibble

Icarus – Kate Tempest

Gremlin in sundress – Rebecca Hawkes

Wormhole – Sinead Overbye

Spacious Family Home ($960 PW) – Rhys Feeney

An-odúne – Liam Hinton

The ordinary poem – Ursula Robinson-Shaw

jasmine – Emily Zuberec

in the end we are humanlike (Blade Runner 2049) – Nina Mingya Powles

Drokpa – Cynthia Miller

My Brother at 3 A.M – Natalie Diaz

to the notebook kid – Eve L. Ewing

Now get writing those poems! Here are some books on writing, if you need some ideas to get you going 🙂


The exercise book : creative writing exercises from Victoria University’s Institute of Modern Letters
“Contains writing prompts to help beginning writers and to help tackle writer’s block. In between are exercises from a host of New Zealand and international writers that explore the nuts and bolts of craft – in poetry, fiction and scriptwriting – along with others that tap into sources of inspiration or show the value of revision and editing.” (Catalogue)


Steering the craft : exercises and discussions on story writing for the lone navigator or the mutinous crew / Le Guin, Ursula K.
“One of the great writers of the twentieth century offers an exhilarating workout for writers of narrative fiction or nonfiction. With her sharp mind and wit and a delightful sense of playfulness, Le Guin has turned a successful workshop into a self-guided voyage of discovery for a writer working alone, a writing group, or a class. Steering the Craft is concerned with the basic elements of narrative: how a story is told, what moves it and what clogs it. This book does not plod through plot, character, beginning-middle-and-end. Nor does it discuss writing as self-expression, as therapy, or as spiritual adventure. Each topic includes examples that clarify and exercises that intensify awareness of the techniques of storytelling.” (Catalogue)


Rip the page! : adventures in creative writing / Benke, Karen
“Here are the ideas, experiments, and inspiration to unfold your imagination and get your writing to flow off the page This is the everything-you-need guide to spark new poems and unstick old stories, including lists of big, small, gross-out, and favorite words; adventurous and zany prompts to leap from; dares and double dares to help you mash up truths and lies into outrageous paragraphs; and letters of encouragement written directly to you from famous authors, including: Annie Barrows, Naomi Shihab Nye, Lemony Snicket, C. M. Mayo, Elizabeth Singer Hunt, Moira Egan, Gary Soto, Lucille Clifton, Avi, Betsy Franco, Carol Edgarian, Karen Cushman, Patricia Polacco, Prartho Sereno, Lewis Buzbee, and C. B. Follett. This is your journal for inward-bound adventures–use it to write, brainstorm, explore, imagine–and even rip” (Catalogue)


Write : a 30-day guide to creative writing / Quigley, Sarah
“This book is designed for the aspiring fiction writer who needs to kick start their imagination. The author is a respected novelist, poet, short story writer and columnist, and in this book she shares some of the ‘tricks of the trade’ she has learned, and offers insights into the creative process, demystifying writing as a form of expression. This is a useful, practical and highly readable guide for the huge and growing market of aspiring writers. Includes a range of charming pen and ink drawings by Gustav Hellberg.” (Catalogue)

Take Time to Kōrero: Mental Health Awareness Week

Official Mental Health Awareness Week image, downloaded from their website.

Provided by the Mental Health Foundation

This September 27th – October 3rd is Mental Health Awareness Week, an annual campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation. Here’s a little more about this year’s theme, taken from the official MHAW website:

This year’s theme is take time to kōrero/mā te kōrero, ka ora – a little chat can go a long way.

This MHAW is all about connecting with the people in our lives and creating space for conversations about mental health and wellbeing. Whether it’s checking in with a mate, having a kōrero over some kai or saying hello to a stranger, a little chat can go a long way. 

 The Mental Health Foundation has dedicated each day of this week to a different activity , with the aim of fostering wellbeing.  Why not give them a go, see if you notice any changes in your own life? 🙂

RĀHINA | MONDAY : Reconnect with someone you care about.

RĀTU | TUESDAY : Get outside in nature with someone.

RĀAPA | WEDNESDAY : Have a kōrero about Te Whare Tapa Whā 

RĀPARE | THURSDAY : Connect through kindness.

RĀMERE | FRIDAY : Come together and reflect.

image from Commonspace website. Depects a sun and a minimal landscape in crayon scribbles.

Commonspace, 113 Taranaki St., Te Whanganio-ā-Tara

On a related note, there’s a brand new hang-out space in the CBD of Te Whanganui-a-Tara called Commonspace! Designed as “a living room for the city”, Commonspace has been created as a “central place of being and belonging, learning and connecting, through de-siloing knowledge and cross-pollinating disciplines, holding whanaungatanga for a younger inner city community to connect more consciously.” From movie nights, craft clubs, live album listening parties, a radio station and more; Commonspace is a lovely new place for youth to hang out, learn and create art!

I am definitely a person who has struggled with their mental health, and I am so stoked to see that this kind of discussion is becoming more common in our Aotearoa! To celebrate this fantastic week, here are some books that might be helpful for your own mental health journey 🙂

The mental health and wellbeing workout for teens : skills and exercises from ACT and CBT for healthy thinking / Nagel, Paula
“This easy-to-understand, engaging guide arms teens with healthy thinking habits and coping strategies for staying on top of their mental health. Readers are given the tools to build their own personalised mental health ‘workout’ to boost their emotional resilience and well-being. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Your brain needs a hug : life, love, mental health, and sandwiches / Earl, Rae
“Imbued with a sense of humor, understanding, and hope, Your Brain Needs a Hug is a judgment-free guide for living well with your mind.  Witty, honest, and enlightening, this is the perfect read for feeling happier and healthier and learning to navigate life without feeling overwhelmed or isolated” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Obsessed : a memoir of my life with OCD / Britz, Allison
“Fifteen-year-old Allison lived a comfortable life in an idyllic town. She was a dedicated student with tons of extracurricular activities, friends, and loving parents at home. But after awakening from a vivid nightmare in which she was diagnosed with brain cancer, she was convinced the dream had been a warning.  This memoir tracks Allison’s descent and ultimately hopeful climb out of the depths” (Adapted from Catalogue)

You’re crushing it / Croucher, Lex
“Sometimes life can be pretty amazing. But other times it feels like: A. Your heart and stomach have been steamrolled into a grisly organ pancake B. You are being put through an emotional spiralizer that creates human courgetti C. Both of the above. You’re a courgetti pancake No, Instagram filters won’t make it look any better.  An honest, thoughtful and hilarious survival guide for young people by social media sensation, Lex Croucher. (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mindfulness for students : embracing now, looking to the future / Kaufman, Natasha
“Life can be tough. With decisions to make at such a critical time, from subject choices to new colleges and universities, careers and relationships, it’s easy to feel weighed down. What’s more, there is the pressure to gain good grades, to find a good job, to be a good person. From a young age we are taught the significance of a solid education and a fruitful career, yet with such an emphasis on academic and monetary success we often fail to prioritise a healthy mind. Leaving the security of home and adjusting to new-found independence can be an exciting transition. It can also be unsettling. It is vital to know how to deal with life’s many challenges and triumphs emotionally. Practising mindfulness can equip you with the skills to do this.” (Catalogue)


If you need to talk to someone else:

Free call or text 1737 for support from a trained counsellor, or feel free to reach out to the below organisations.

Lifeline
0800 543 354
Free text 4357 (HELP)

Youthline
0800 376 633
Free text 234

Cool Books from Booktok

Kia ora koutou!

I don’t know about you all, but during lockdown I spent a lot of hours on Tiktok. Specifically, I found myself taking a deep-dive into Booktok, the side of Tiktok where people share what books they’re reading. I am someone who always has about 20 books on reserve, a Goodreads list so long that it has probably developed its own personal anxiety disorder and an indecent amount of books TAKING UP ANY FREE SPACE IN MY ROOM THAT I CAN FIND. The last thing a person like me needs is a limitless supply of MORE RECOMMENDATIONS. Will I continue to create an irresponsibly long to-read list? Yes. Will I encourage you to do the same? Of course. 

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Real footage of me every time I have to move houses and I discover just how many books I have.

If you have found yourself on Booktok, and want to read some trending books, check out this list! Here are some Booktok favs that we have at Wellington City Libraries!

Remember, reserves are free and you can request a book to be sent to any of our branches. Comment below with more books we should add to this list!

Blood heir / Zhao, Amélie Wen
“A fugitive princess with a deadly Affinity and a charismatic crime lord forge an unlikely alliance in order to save themselves, each other, and the kingdom.” (Catalogue)

A good girl’s guide to murder / Jackson, Holly
“The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. But having grown up in the small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final-year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

House of salt and sorrows / Craig, Erin A
“In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed. Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor with her sisters and their father and stepmother. Once there were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last…and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

One of us is lying / McManus, Karen M.
“When the creator of a high school gossip app mysteriously dies in front of four high-profile students, all four become suspects. It’s up to them to solve the case” (Catalogue)

We were liars / Lockhart, E
“Each summer the wealthy, seemingly perfect Sinclair family meets on their private island. Cadence, Johnny, Mirren, and Gat are a unit, especially during “summer 15,” marking their fifteenth year on Beechwood– the summer that Cady and Gat fall in love. Cady became involved in a mysterious accident, in which she sustained a blow to the head, and now suffers from debilitating migraines and memory loss. When she returns to Beechwood during summer 17 issues of guilt and blame, love and truth all come into play.” (Catalogue)

They both die at the end / Silvera, Adam
“In a near-future New York City where a service alerts people on the day they will die, teenagers Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio meet using the Last Friend app and are faced with the challenge of living a lifetime on their End Day.” (Catalogue)

These violent delights / Gong, Chloe
“In 1926 Shanghai, eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, heir of the Scarlet Gang, and her first love-turned-rival Roma Montagov, leader of the White Flowers, must work together when mysterious deaths threaten their city.” (Catalogue)

The Selection / Cass, Kiera
“Sixteen-year-old America Singer is living in the caste-divided nation of Illea, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. America is chosen to compete in the Selection–a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea’s prince–but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her”– Provided by publisher.” (Catalogue)

Cool New Meme Formats from Recollect

Do you know about Recollect? Recollect is a database of heritage photos, books, maps and other Te Whanganui-ā-tara related ephemera.

If I was a responsible librarian, I would tell you all about how it is an excellent resource for important things like school assignments. I would point out the photos of what Cuba Street looked like in 1894, or this photography exhibit that explored Wellington’s transgender community in the 70’s. I would tell you all about how these resources can provide us with a snapshot of our city’s history, how deep diving into these resources might help us see connections between our past and current city, and how by engaging with our history we can gain insight into how to create a better future.

But I am not a responsible librarian, I am a chaotic good librarian. I would like to suggest instead that you explore Recollect for some meme reasons. Because, truly, there are so many meme structures ripe for the picking. Below, I offer you my incredibly average attempts at content. Please take these/make your own historical Wellington memes, and share them below in the comments if you like!

If you do use images from Recollect, please remember to include a reference link back to the original page. Here is where I found the above images:

Bucket Fountain Shade

Toddler Clearly Up To Something

Why Is This Man Smiling?

Too Many Garfields